Basketball is my solice, my outlet and the means by which I keep myself youthful. When I was a kid, I used to go to the outdoor courts near my parent's place to clear my head and shoot baskets. It was my time to work out the kinks of my game and personal life. On many of these occasions, my Dad would come along, show me his sky hook and we would often play a little one-on-one. I know I am a better hockey player than basketball player - that much I will admit. But those days on the court with my Dad are ones I will remember because we would feed off each other and have fun. He obviously had the height on me and let's face it, I had speed on my side (sorry, Dad). We would butt heads -still do- but there was something about our roles on the court that would just mesh and those debates about Leafs' line-ups or curfew would just go to the wayside. I think this is what's missing from the Big Three in Miami. It's too personal. Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh are great basketball players - that is a fact. But the climate which made them individually great before coming together in Miami is way different than what they are being afforded now. Let's really dive into this and touch on Laker's Head Coach Phil Jackson's latest comments.
Too Many cooks in the Kitchen
It would be overstating the obvious if I were to proclaim the Miami Heat are having some issues. With Thursday's game in Cleveland, LeBron's return to play his former teammates will not be like Bosh's in how he greeted the Raptors' bench and made plans to go out after. I highly doubt LeBron James will be sticking around Cleveland after that game and heading straight for the team bus. The level of hate and revenge against the Heat and LeBron James is so high in Cleveland that according to ESPN, dozens of extra police will be assigned to the game both in uniform and undercover. The Cavaliers management and the NBA will not only be considering the safety of LeBron James and the Miami Heat, but of of LeBron's family, too. Shirts or posters or any kind of homemade device which show any form of disrespect to LeBron James or his family will be banned. This is serious business. One member of the Cavs management team had this to say about Thursday's game: "Honestly, I'm a little bit afraid. Some people don't care. Their mentality is 'I've got to get this off my chest'. There's so much negative energy around this game. People aren't excited about the game itself. They're just like, 'I can't wait to do something'". This is really sad. The Cleveland Cavaliers have never prepared for an event like this with the amount of security detail Thursday's game will have. According to Cavaliers' Senior Vice President of Communications Tad Carper, the team, the NBA and the Cleveland police have been preparing for this game since the schedule was released in August.
It seems as if there are two choices when it comes to the Miami Heat now: dislike and hate. Two very strong areas to be in. I know booing happens at any sporting event and signs like 'Beat the Heat' are normal. To be honest, though, I never thought I would see the day when LeBron James would only draw applause from the crowd on the road when he makes a mistake. But the real issue I have now is the hits he is taking from those within in the league. Even NBA Team owners and players are weighing in on why the Heat are not so hot right now. "I want them to loose all their games" says Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Tracy McGrady is personal, but more constructive in his criticism: "Both of those guys need the ball, and they don't shoot the ball like Ray Allen. That's why they are having trouble scoring in the half court, because they can't get a rhythm, because one of them is dominating the ball". So Cavs Head Coach Byron Scott can get fined for arguing with a referee and impeding his ability to do his job but people like Mark Cuban can just shoot off his mouth. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and should be free to express it but I think owners are held to a higher standard. Would you want to work for someone who stood up for you when things were hard or someone who publicly criticizes those who came before you? I have to give Miami Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra credit. He has to be thinking his job is on the line because with a roster and a boss like his, there is added pressure. He is doing his best to put a positive spin on things saying that adversity builds a team and disagreements are good. However, tensions are high in the Heat locker room and even if they are not saying it publicly yet, I am sure players are looking for change. Chris Bosh has the best attitude through all this: "We all wanted this coming in, so we're going to have to deal with it and just overcome it". I think a little bumping of shoulders between player and coach are the least of their worries.
Lakers are quietly happy
The one team in the NBA happy about the bulls eye on each Heat jersey is the Los Angeles Lakers. Here's a team who is expected to three peat an NBA Championship and in comes the Miami Heat drama train deflecting some of the pressure. Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson and his team are not out of the woods yet. He is as zen as he always is and but with this being his final year as an NBA Coach, there is an expectation he goes out on top. He's been publicly expressing his frustration lately about the timeline for Laker Andrew Bynum's return. Bynum has been out of the Lakers' line-up recovering from surgery he had on his right knee in the summer. Although Phil Jackson wishes this recovery was going a little quicker, I don't think his coaching style allows for public humiliation of his players. He still believes Bynum is working hard in his rehabilitation and is "a very willing worker. Absolutely no doubt". Bynum has said he expects to make his season debut sometime in December but I doubt after all this time he'll be up to a starting position. He's in practice now and slowly building up the intensity but I don't think his conditioning will be deserving of a starting position. Knee surgery is serious business in any sport and can be career-ending for even the best players. He should be happy he has a leg to stand on and go from there.
Thanks for joining me today. I will see you here on the DNB this Thursday for more "Behind Enemy Lines".